Frothy 'Gigi' is a lovely little musical Singing and acting shine in production

September 29, 1995|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

I confess, I've known Lerner and Loewe's "Gigi" only in its Hollywood incarnation, which has kept me at arm's length from the musical for years.

You can't not like Maurice Chevalier, but the Leslie Caron-Louis Jourdan end of things is boring in my book.

Still, I went to the Chesapeake Music Hall hoping the story of the young Parisian tomboy who rebels against the rules of female deportment would translate into a night of frothy fun at the theater. I'm happy to report it did.

Mind you, "Gigi" will never be confused with "My Fair Lady" or "Fiddler on the Roof" as Broadway at its greatest, but it is a cute, witty bit of Gallic fluff full of fun characters and lovely songs like "The Night They Invented Champagne," "I Remember It Well" and the classic "Thank Heaven for Little Girls."

Let's begin by thanking heaven for the remarkable Stephanie Walters of Columbia. She's only 14, but she'll grow up before your eyes in the title role.

The voice is a flirty, attractive one, and, she doesn't get left behind once dramatically.

David Reynolds is fine as Gaston, Gigi's upper-crusty suitor who gets more than he bargains for when he signs the young girl up as his official courtesan. Mr. Reynolds is especially good when he mutates into a French Henry Higgins to deliver the show's title song.

The true scene-stealer is the elegant Will Sherman as Lachaalle, Gaston's rakish, "done-it-all" uncle. His "I Remember It Well" with Celia Rocca, who plays Gigi's well-intentioned grandmother, Mamita, is a bittersweet moment of tremendous charm.

And it's Ms. Rocca's ripping interaction with Peggy Glen as her catty, calculating sister, Alicia, that provides the show with much of its spice.

There's some remarkably aimless blocking going on behind Mr. Reynolds as he sings "Gigi," but otherwise the production is smartly laid out and executed. Costumes are marvelous. This time around though, the cuisine seemed more redolent of Sparta than of Paris. C'est la vie.

"Gigi" plays at the Chesapeake Music Hall though Nov. 19. For production times and prices, call the theater at 626-7515.

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